1976 Northwest Regatta on Lake Mendota

Class E Skeeters line up to race at the 1976 Northwest Regatta on Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin. Photo: Greg Whitehorse

Greg Whitehorse posted this on the 4LIYC Facebook page.

Mid-70’s Northwest Regatta on Lake Mendota.
You are looking at just one side of the starting line, so I’ll guess there are probably 28, maybe more, Class E* Skeeters in this race. M-54 is Gary Sternberg’s “So What,” but I think Vic Whitehorse is at the helm for this race. That would be Dave Nelson’s M-150, “Tuff Ship” lined up next. Racing in the Skeeter class with 30-40 boats on the line was a blast back in the day.

Between the late ’60s and early ’70s, I believe club members helped build ten or more Class E Skeeters in Dave Rosten’s basement. It wasn’t unusual to see Dave, Paul Krueger, Bill Mattison, Jack Ripp, the guy who the boat was being built for, and a host of others all helping out. It was an incredible time.

Skeeter Ice Boat Club’s Sparky Lundberg aced out Paul Krueger for the Class A Skeeter win that year. It may have been the first year for PK’s rear seater.



January 21, 1976, Wisconsin State Journal: Paul Krueger’s first rear-seat Class A Skeeter.

1976 NIYA Regatta Winners:
Class A: No entry
Class B: WINTER BELL, B. Herman
Class C: TWIN BEDS, Bill McCormick
Class D: RED WITCH, Dick Slates
Class E Skeeter: Sparky Lundberg
DN Class: Jane Pegel
DN Class Junior:Mike O’Brien
Renegade Class: Elmer Millenbach RENEGADE III

*The Reason Class A Skeeters are called Class E Skeeters in the Northwest Regatta

The International Skeeter Association designates bow-steering Skeeters Class A as “Single place yachts, or two-place tandem Whose mast, when measured along the mast, does not exceed 28’-6″ from the deck to top of mast, including all mast and deck hardware.” Class A Skeeters carry a maximum of 75 square feet of sail. However, when Class A Skeeters sail in the Northwest regatta, they are listed as “Class E.” (When I was a kid, I thought the E stood for “Experimental.”)

Class A Skeeters turn into Class E because there was already a Class A, B, C, and D in the Northwest, and those designations applied to Stern-Steerers. Skeeters got the left-over E. It reminds us that the Northwest regatta is a Stern-Steerer regatta, organized in 1913 by ice yacht clubs, which only sailed Stern-Steerers at the time. 1936 marks the year that the Northwest recognized Skeeters as an ice yacht class.

No Go on Mendota

Well you have to figure that since Paul and Ken had their boats set up on Lake Mendota, they’d be obligated to give sailing a try. Paul reports that he “got a little ride, and the snow was too sticky to make it around a racecourse.” Ken said, “The snow was only an inch, yet the razor-sharp quarter-inch runners couldn’t cut through it. Paul got a ride with his draft sail. A special Kau- Bossett design. I pushed back to the pits. Thumbs up to the race committee for canceling racing this weekend; they knew more than the skeeters fleet!”

It’s a Set Up

Ken Whitehorse and Paul Krueger took advantage of the sunny day and set up their Class A Skeeters on the west end of Lake Mendota today, January 21, 2021. The boats stayed close to shore because there’s not quite enough ice thickness for them to sail. Stand by for Friday’s ice report.

Scout Mendota from Home

Mendota Today: North Cam Snap at 8:45 AM

Mendota Today

Would you like to scout ice from your comfortable chair? Remember to check in with the Mendota Today webcam for live views of Lake Mendota. The time lapses from the previous days are worth your time as well.

A slow-moving low-pressure system has enveloped much of Wisconsin the past day. What little snow the Four Lakes area received has melted in the ice on Mendota, as evidenced by this morning’s webcam view. However, there were reports of heavy slush on Mendota Friday. Lake Monona was a different story because its early freeze invited more snow cover. Monona has more thickness but more snow and slush. The ice is changing daily, and we are all holding our breath, hoping that sailable ice comes out of it all.